Tuesday 23 May 2017

Twitterers of the world unite

Niall Byrne

If you're a Twitter user (or any other social network at all), you'll inevitably have seen first-time tweeters say things such as "trying to understand this Twitter lark", or "how does this work?" A good explanation is the quote doing the rounds that goes something like: "Facebook is for people you used to know. Twitter is for people you'd like to know."

There's a succinct truth in that. Social media should be about learning new things, extending your social circle and having some fun in the process. Richard Newman is an embodiment of that ethos. The unemployed Englishman decided he wanted to record a cover of the Rod Stewart song Maggie May to celebrate two years on Twitter. The only problem? He didn't play a musical instrument.

He didn't let that stop him, however. Newman turned to Twitter and recruited 11 interested musicians and a producer to make it happen. Calling themselves @Tw1tterBand (blog: tw1tterband. blogspot.com), the band put together a cover of the song having never met.

Within a few days, the song was recorded and a video was released (bit.ly/twittermay). The song was used to raise money for a charity called Macmillan Cancer Support.

They followed up that song with an infinitely better cover of The Smiths' Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want (bit.ly/twitsmiths). The project has now raised over £2,000 (€2,328) and has prompted Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr to tweet at them, "Nice job. I'm touched".

Established musicians have also had the crowd-sourcing idea for songs. Prominent Twitter user and singer Imogen Heap is planning to make the most of her 1.5 million Twitter followers with an experiment called #heapsong1.

On March 14, people will be able to upload music or sounds for Imogen to fashion into a song. On the 15th, Heap will collect words for the lyrics the same way.

The following days will see the collection of visual material for a video and submissions for a solo for the middle of the track.

The song will be finished by March 21 and released a week later with the accompanying video on March 28.

Electronic producer Tim Exile will also be remixing the song live while hearing the song for the first time.

Another forward-thinking musician, Glasser, has also been playing with technology and shared experiences. During her recent TV performance on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, the singer "embedded" QR codes on the stage.

Intrigued viewers could then scan these codes with their smartphones where they would be pointed to a 3D visual zone which contained exclusive content including videos, free downloads and links to buy Glasser's album Ring for a reduced price.

Glasser wanted to go as far as to design special QR codes to represent her album artwork, so she hired a graduate programmer to reinterpret the album cover's colour and design into the codes.

Who knows how many actually used the QR codes while watching, but if you want to see what you missed, check out the 3D-based content at bit.ly/glasserqr.

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